Campus Y Renovation Will Move Forward

Supporters of the ailing Campus Y building received a dose of good news July 22 when the Board of Trustees agreed to designate $1.3 million in state funds for repairs.

The total fund-raising goal for renovation of the building is $4.3 million; so far, $2 million has been raised in private funds. The board approved using $1 million of state repair and renovations funds and $300,000 of classroom support and central administration funds. Private funds still are needed to cover the remaining $1 million.

In summer 2003, after heavy rains contributed to significant leaks in the roof, mold was discovered in the building’s basement. The two upper floors are out of compliance with building codes and have not been usable for several years.

The building was built in 1907 and originally was called the YMCA, when it was affiliated with that organization.

“With an older building, once it starts to decay, it starts failing system by system,” said Paul Kapp, campus historic preservation manager.

Construction work is set to begin early next year and includes plans for two general-purpose classrooms, a faculty lounge and an office for the executive director of the arts. All electrical and mechanical systems will be replaced as part of the building’s overhaul. The foundation will be waterproofed to prevent further flood damage.

The trustees commissioned a report in May to determine the best use of the facility in harmony with other student hubs, such as the recently expanded Student Union and the construction of the Ramshead Center on South Campus. They determined that the facility should remain to house classrooms and to serve faculty and the Greek community, in addition to housing student organizations.

The Campus Y has a long history of student activism. The organization advocated for civil rights and served as a resource for Carolina’s first African-American students. Later, students staged Vietnam War protests from the Y Court. The building operated as an organizational base to striking cafeteria workers in 1969.

“It’s a place where students know they can go to focus on any number of different causes,” said Richard “Stick” Williams ’75, chair of the trustees. “This is a building we absolutely want to save.”

The recent increase in support is a dramatic reversal for a building that faced demolition in 1998. But Kapp said the renovation will prove worthwhile.

“I really believe this renovation is going to be this decade’s Graham Memorial,” Kapp said. “Under all the drop ceilings and partitions, I know this is a real jewel of a building. When the renovation is finished, people are going to wonder why we didn’t do this 15 years ago.”

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